ASA Warn Universities For Misleading Advertising

Six UK Universities have been warned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over exaggerated claims made in their advertising to attract students.

Leicester, East Anglia, Strathclyde, Falmouth, Teesside and the University of West London have all had complaints upheld against them.

The ASA wishes to stop unjustified claims and offer a clearer explanation of achievement in rankings and league tables.

Complaints were upheld against six universities:

Falmouth University

The University must change it’s advertising on its website which state it is “the UK’s number one arts university” or “the UK’s number one creative university”.

Teesside University

The University had a complaint upheld for saying it was the “Top university in England for long-term graduate prospects”, the complainant pointing out that Cambridge had better long term prospects.

University of East Anglia

The University has been told not to use the claim “Top 5 for student satisfaction”, though the UEA said the claim in the ad was a result of an administrative error and on receipt of the ASA’s enquiry they had immediately updated it to include further qualification as originally intended. .

University of Leicester

The University was told they must stop claiming to be “a top 1% world university”, which they had used in a Facebook ad.

University of Strathclyde

The University has been told to change the claim on their website that “We’re ranked No. 1 in the UK” for physics.

University of West London

The University has been told they must stop claiming to be “London’s top modern university – and one of the top 10 in the UK”.


In many cases the University’s did indeed have ways of presenting the facts they had used in the ads but it was felt that often enough information was not given to show the objectivity of those claims, or that the figures were the University’s own interpretation of other figures.

The ASA are showing the way forward in making sure that the advertising of the universities are ethical and honest and this can only be a good thing. It is important to note that in these cases none of the actions of the universities in question looks to be malicious or lying, rather that their interpretation of the facts is open to question, and that often enough information about where the figures were from was not given.


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